Opinion | Democrats Have Embraced Economics. Too Much? – The New York Times

by | Aug 19, 2022 | Financial

On the other hand, I think I like economists and their way of thinking more than Berman does. Sticking with cost-benefit analysis, which Berman extensively reviews: True, it can seem cold to put a dollar value on a child’s life as a means of evaluating some new law or regulation that’s intended to protect her. But it’s kind of inevitable. If you buy a $300 crib instead of a $3,000 crib that’s just slightly safer, you’re potentially weighing one benefit — your infant’s safety — against others, such as freeing up more money for baby formula and her future college education. Economists are the sometimes disliked people who make those implicit trade-offs explicit.Berman’s book has come in for some criticism. A review in The New Yorker said that economic tools can be used, and have been, to advance precisely the sorts of liberal policies that Berman favors — child tax credits, antitrust enforcement, action against climate change. “Berman’s approach to economic analysis is essentially to disregard it unless it confirms what she already thinks,” the reviewer said — echoing, perhaps by chance, what Berman herself said about Republicans.The Harvard economist Jason Furman, who ran the Council of Economic Advisers during President Barack Obama’s second term, wrote in Foreign Affairs that Berman overstates the influence that he and other economists have on policy. He also says she goes astray in arguing for judging policies on the basis of whether they violate pe …

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